To be born in the United States is to inherit the genealogical and cultural scars of its past. Shane McCrae takes us through the forced marches and dark passages of history with unrelenting audacity and courage. Crosses set on fire. People burned alive, their heads posted on stakes. Fighting to keep alive and to be free. Blood is an American legacy culminating in an engrailed crown. “How else I’m gonna know myself / When I am called.”
Shane McCrae‘s Blood is, as Margaret Atwood said of Toni Morrison’s Beloved shortly after its publication: “by turns rich, graceful, eccentric, rough, lyrical, sinuous, colloquial and very much to the point.” McCrae’s point is one of captivating intensity. His disconcerting language tracks the estrangement and strangeness, the severance and severity of a Self seized by history. Blood is a score of rupture and reckoning. These remarkable poems are psychological, palpable, and tenaciously beautiful.
Shane McCrae is the author of the poetry collection Mule (Cleveland State University Poetry Center 2011) and the recipient of a 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award and a 2013 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship. In 2012, McCrae’s collection Mule was selected as a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and a PEN Center USA Literary Award. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2010, American Poetry Review, African American Review, Fence, and AGNI.
Reviews and News
Michael Klein reviews Blood for The Rumpus:
Shane McCrae’s astounding third collection of poems, Blood, is a book of dramatic slave narratives that are written so close to the bone that every poem reads like an insider’s account of what happened inside the burning frame of a history nobody read. This is a treatise about slavery in every conveyance of the word: slavery to the man, to the Klan, to the child, to the land, to a murderous heart, to bad thinking, to the betrayed and to the betrayer. And every poem seems to be written from the place of some final recognition, a reckoning: This is who I am. This is what happened to me. This is what happened to us, as a people.
$15 Paperback | Published 2013